It’s Women’s History Month, and that means there’s no better time than to celebrate the women in your life!

As part of honoring and commemorating important the women to you, be sure to share this article and information with those you care about. There are several important screenings that can help monitor and prevent health issues for women. Some important health screenings for women include:

Breast cancer screening: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, second only to skin cancer for American women, and early detection is key to successful treatment. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray that can detect breast cancer before a lump can be felt. Breast ultrasound is another tool that can be used to determine breast health by using sound waves to look for any issues. This is particularly helpful for women with dense breast tissue. Women over the age of 50 should have a mammogram every two years, and women between the ages of 40 and 49 should talk to their doctor about whether to begin mammograms earlier. For Altrua HealthShare Members, because of the Membership’s dedication to women’s health, Members begin having mammograms or breast ultrasounds at the age of 40, and those clean results are then submitted by the Member for sharing in any future care that may be needed. For Altrua HealthShare Members, mammograms or breast ultrasounds are to be repeated every 24 months in order to maintain sharing in any eligible medical needs that might arise in breast cancer.  In addition to mammograms, women should also perform breast self-exams to check for any changes in the appearance or feel of their breasts.

Cervical cancer screening: Cervical cancer is another common cancer among women, and it can often be prevented with regular screenings. The Pap test can detect abnormal cells in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer. Again, for Altrua HealthShare Members, women age 40 and over are to submit Pap smear results every 24 months for sharing in any future care that may be needed. For women who are not Altrua HealthShare Members, the minimum recommended by physicians is for women between the ages of 21 and 65 to have a Pap test every three years. Additionally, women between the ages of 30 and 65 can opt to have both a Pap test and an HPV test every five years. The HPV test can detect the human papillomavirus, which is a leading cause of cervical cancer.

Bone density screening: Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile, and it’s more common in women than men. Women over the age of 65 should have a bone density test, which measures the density of your bones and can detect osteoporosis. Women with risk factors, such as a family history of osteoporosis or a sedentary lifestyle, may need to be screened earlier.

Cholesterol screening: High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, and women should have their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. The screening will typically include a measurement of total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Women over the age of 45, or earlier if they have risk factors such as smoking or a family history of heart disease, should start having cholesterol screening. Cholesterol levels seem to particularly rise at menopause, so knowing your levels both pre-and-post menopause can be helpful for understanding the changes your body is experiencing. 

Blood pressure screening: High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Women should have their blood pressure checked regularly, and if it is high, they should work with their doctor to manage it. Altrua HealthShare Members have access to a number of office visits depending on their level of membership, and several membership types also have pooled office visits, which allows family members to utilize office visits between family members. 

Colon cancer screening: Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and regular screenings can help detect it early. There are several different types of colon cancer screenings, including stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy.

Depression and anxiety screening: Women should be screened for depression and anxiety, especially those that have a history of these challenges or who are going through a significant life change. This can be done by talking with their healthcare provider, or through self-assessment tools and questionnaires. Altrua HealthShare Members on certain memberships have access to LifeWorks, a counseling and coaching service.

Thyroid function test: The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, and a thyroid function test can check for any problems with the gland. Women should have their thyroid checked if they have symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, or hair loss, or if they have risk factors such as a family history of thyroid disease or radiation exposure to the neck.

It’s important to repeat that these are general guidelines and that the appropriate screening schedule will vary depending on a woman’s individual health history and risk factors. Women should work closely with their doctors to determine the best screening schedule for them. And remember, if you are currently looking for an affordable, flexible healthcare solution, one that can also provide important screenings for the women in your life, you can enroll for membership with Altrua HealthShare all year long, not just in open enrollment season. Be sure to check out the Membership Guidelines for specifics and for waiting periods. You can also call and speak with a Member Services Representative at 1.866.574.8358 about your current membership with Altrua HeatlhShare or to enroll as a new Member. Let’s take good care of the women in our lives!